Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a condition in which food and liquids in the stomach frequently leak upward into the esophagus. The leaking upward process is known as “acid reflux.” Most individuals experience acid reflux at some point in their lives, but when it occurs twice or more per week, it is called Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, a chronic and potentially serious condition.
For many patients, the cause of GERD remains unclear. Research has shown, however, that in individuals with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) relaxes when the rest of the esophagus is working. This allows stomach contents to seep into the esophagus and throat, causing GERD symptoms. Other anatomical changes such as a hiatal hernia also can increase the incidence of acid reflux.
The most common symptom of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease is frequent heartburn, that is, a burning sensation in the lower chest and upper abdomen. You can suffer from GERD, however, without experiencing frequent heartburn. Symptoms that also may indicate Gastro-esophageal Reflux Disease include a dry cough, asthma symptoms and trouble swallowing.
Not only can the unpleasant symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease interfere with your ability to function normally, if left improperly treated, the condition also can precipitate more severe health issues. For example, chronic GERD can lead to bleeding or ulcers, scarring of the esophagus that results in difficulty swallowing, or the development of Barrett’s esophagus, a pre-cancerous condition.
At the Kaplan Center, our physicians have years of experience treating patients with chronic conditions such as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, and we completely reject the notion that “you just have to live with it.”
At your first visit, your Kaplan physicians will take time exploring the onset of your condition, the specific nature of your symptoms and the overall status of your health. You’ll also be asked about the medications and therapies you have tried in the past, and what has and hasn’t worked for you. To gather additional information about your condition, specialized diagnostic laboratory testing may be necessary.
After reviewing all the factors contributing to your condition, your physician will spend time talking with you about your diagnosis and working with you to create a customized and multi-dimensional treatment plan that address not only your immediate pain, but also any possible underlying or co-existing conditions that may be causing or aggravating your Gastro-esophageal Reflux Disease symptoms.
We offer a multitude of effective treatment options for GERD, including:
With an effective treatment plan and proper self-management, most people with Gastro-esophageal Reflux Disease can greatly reduce or eliminate their symptoms.
We are here for you, and we want to help.
Our goal is to return you to optimal health as soon as possible. To schedule an appointment please call: 703-532-4892
Publication: What is GERD? A publication of the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC)